Autonomy and Community

Joel Feinberg

in The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law Volume 4: Harmless Wrongdoing

Published in print August 1990 | ISBN: 9780195064704
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833207 | DOI:
Autonomy and Community

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Feinberg defends liberalism against the charge that, given its commitment to autonomy, it is incompatible with certain community ideals. While Feinberg grants that some conflicts between autonomy and community are undeniable, liberalism, he argues, recognizes the centrality of community in human life. Affiliation with various communities and subcommunities is an essential part of an individual's self‐identity, and therefore a political order like liberalism, which protects individual interests, will also protect collective interests of individuals in communities. Nothing in liberalism precludes the liberal from appealing to the common good in his political arguments. After examining the social nature of man, Feinberg considers concepts pertaining to the make‐up of communities including: tradition, alienation, and overlapping‐membership.

Keywords: alienation; autonomy; collective interests; common good; community; liberalism; membership; self‐identity; tradition

Chapter.  20038 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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